The Enchanting Value of Customer Personas


Manager , Strategy


The thrill seeker. The One-of-a-kinds. The diamond cutters. These are just a few names that marketers use to describe their customers.

Customer personas are ways of characterizing consumers and audiences. They’re often based on research that maps out who is buying products or services and can help inform everything from more effective brand copy to new product development.

Some companies have incredibly clear customer personas.

For example, Zipcar’s main buyer is the millennial urban dweller. Recognizing that young city dwellers value health and fitness, Zipcar launched a viral marketing program with Starbucks. Consumers were encouraged to try out a “Low Car Diet.” This experiment led to more than 50% of the participants excited about using their cars less often and walking and biking instead. Thus, Zipcar established itself as an eco-friendly advocate of a healthy lifestyle and weaved that concept into its brand.

When Staples redesigned it’s web site, it applied qualitative and quantitative customer research through every step of the design process, while incorporating feedback from thousands of customers along the way. The company based its design on specific customer shopping characteristics. From this research, the primary Staples customer personas, or types — Lisa Listmaker and Sammy Specific — were born.

According to Staples:

Lisa Listmaker is an office manager whose main goal is to get the order done as quickly as possible. She usually has a detailed list of her “standard order” with item numbers for each product handy while ordering. She shops most often via, in addition to using her Staples catalog and visiting her local Staples store, and usually completes the order in one visit–true to her “in-and-out” nature. She likes special deals if they’ll help her save the office even more.

Sammy Specific runs a small business and is not a planner when it comes to buying office products. Among other characteristics, Sammy typically does not shop by item number, but knows the products he needs by brand and/or general specifications.

Savvy marketers would do well to think hard about their customer and their personas. Here are some samples from a comprehensive (and occasionally amusing) list of brand personas.

(Compiled by


Achievers are accomplished. They crave success and have a way of making things happen for themselves and the project at hand. They are often referred to as ‘accomplished’ or ‘overachievers.’ They wear the title “most likely to succeed.” Their achievements are visible to those around them.

Ambassadors are diplomatic by nature. They know how to get along with others and seek to find common ground. Sometimes they can be seen as political – understanding how to work the system to get things accomplished.

Calmers have a sturdy zen-like nature. They are often the calm in the storm and are almost unshakeable. They are easy-going in nature and although they understand the serious side of challenges, they’re rarely ruffled by it. Because they keep a level head even during stressful times, they are valuable members of teams.

Caregivers think of others, often before themselves. They are supportive, loving and empathetic. They enjoy taking care of others and ensuring that those around them are cared for. Caregivers are usually very tuned in to how people around them are feeling and are quick to help out those in need.

Diamond Cutters are exact. They are precise. They often like detail and speak in specific terms. They are not prone to hyperbole or inaccuracy. They speak and act with accuracy.

One-of-a-kinds are individualists. It is hard to describe them because they have a very special way of being. People use words like as quirky, unique or colorful to describe them. They usually stand out from everyone else you know and are typically comfortable being themselves.

Persuaders are convincing. They have an uncanny ability to make you see things their way. Some use facts, others reason, others analogies. But they all are gifted in their ability to convince those around them. They are often so talented at the art of persuasion that they can get someone to make a 180-degree turn.

Sparks have a natural energy. They are spirited. People refer to them as sassy. They often light up a room and can have a bold aspect to them.

Wonderers have an innate curiosity. They often don’t accept things at face value. They are interested in many things and want to know more about them. They can ask lots of questions to learn more about that which surrounds them.